Thinking

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Re: Thinking

Postby futerko » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:42 pm

lowlydog wrote:Hi futerko,

Focusing attention on the breath fulfills the same purpose, the old habit pattern of the mind flitting about, we gradually train the mind to stay in this tiny area and remain calm and relaxed.

How does this allow me to recognise a mind full of craving vs. a mind full of aversion?


Because that's basically what craving and aversion is - when thoughts chase after or run away from something rather than maintaining a centred single-pointed focus.
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:51 pm

futerko wrote:
Because that's basically what craving and aversion is - when thoughts chase after or run away from something rather than maintaining a centred single-pointed focus.


So again I'm stuck observing thinking, is there no other indicator that will allow me to observe craving apart from aversion?
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Re: Thinking

Postby futerko » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:56 pm

lowlydog wrote:
futerko wrote:
Because that's basically what craving and aversion is - when thoughts chase after or run away from something rather than maintaining a centred single-pointed focus.


So again I'm stuck observing thinking, is there no other indicator that will allow me to observe craving apart from aversion?


Like I said earlier - the root is ignorance - the idea of a seperate self and object - "observing thinking" creates the illusion that there are thoughts (your "object") and a seperate observing "self".
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:09 pm

Hi futerko,

So I'm sitting in the heart centre(I get this) single pointed concentration heart centre is the object completely present, How does insight arise? What is being observed?

This sounds like jhana to me.
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Re: Thinking

Postby futerko » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:36 pm

lowlydog wrote:Hi futerko,

So I'm sitting in the heart centre(I get this) single pointed concentration heart centre is the object completely present, How does insight arise? What is being observed?


I'm not sure if we can say that the object is ever completely present - that is the unity of the two truths - it's more a realisation on a level of experience rather than an insight grasped as an object of thought.

So it's like - one searches for "completeness" in external objects/thoughts and they just lead to an endless cycle of searching - at no point do we reach a adequate stop, in this sense they are not only unsatisfactory as answers, but also unsatisfying - there is no completeness to be found.

However, when centred, there is still no "closure", no completeness - rather it is becoming familiar with "openness" - you stop trying to grasp - the insight is at the level of the way things are structured and the position one takes. It's the observer that vanishes, what is being observed? Nothing... Everything...
we cannot get rid of God because we still believe in grammar - Nietzsche
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Re: Thinking

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:40 pm

lowlydog wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:In meditation?

I've been led to believe that there are no harmful thoughts in mediation unless you cling to them, I suppose that's true always really. I've had some unpleasant experiences recently (coinciding with life getting harder, and a bit of depression, big surprise) in meditation with bizarre and intrusive thoughts. All the advice i've gotten here, from spiritual friends in real life, and stuff i've read says to just keep going' and sit with whatever it is that's giving you grief. Not easy, but i'm beginning to think it's the right answer.


How do you know you are experiencing grief and not happyness?


You don't..other than consciousness labeling them conventionally, during meditation you should be striving to just watch it go by, or if it's insight to examine it dispassionately, whether it is conventionally good or bad. Eventually you will be able to "see" consciousness forming views on what is happening moment to moment - whether it's bodily sensation, dichotomous thought or whatever.

My understanding is that you should never try to avoid the negative or follow the positive in meditation. You don't need to worry about thoughts being harmful or not, you sit with whatever is there and keep gently returning to the object..there is no need to place any kind of value on anything. once you can be quiet enough to not attach to views, then you can let go of the object and examine the thought, sensation, whatever.

This is purely my own experience..but when my mind is really busy and I am having hard time I just do breath counting...I think there are a bunch of ways to do it, but I end focusing on the outbreath for each count.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:47 pm

lowlydog wrote:So what your saying is that during my meditation(and day to day activities) a change in my breathing is an indication of impurities in the mind. So a fast and hard breathing could indicate tension and impure mind and a relaxed and slow breath could indicate a calm pure mind.

Also, observing bodily tension is a good way of recognising impure harmful thoughts.

Why do we have to make anger a problem? If we can identify it, can we not just observe it, see its charachteristic of impermanence and watch it arise stay for some time and eventually pass away. Your technique seems to place your attention on others, outside of your body. Would it not be better to observe ones own qualities?

I can defenitly see how imagining a buddha when angry can temporarily distract one from impure thoughts but how does this prevent the thoughts from arising in the future.


Hi Catmoon,

I was rereading your reply and it occured to me that those who posess a visual mind may actually see impure thoughts as a vision and by seeing the buddha qualities in them they pass away without one having reacted to them, and this process could be introverted as well as extroverted. Is this how the practice of visualisation works?
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:48 pm

futerko wrote:
lowlydog wrote:Hi futerko,

So I'm sitting in the heart centre(I get this) single pointed concentration heart centre is the object completely present, How does insight arise? What is being observed?


I'm not sure if we can say that the object is ever completely present - that is the unity of the two truths - it's more a realisation on a level of experience rather than an insight grasped as an object of thought.

So it's like - one searches for "completeness" in external objects/thoughts and they just lead to an endless cycle of searching - at no point do we reach a adequate stop, in this sense they are not only unsatisfactory as answers, but also unsatisfying - there is no completeness to be found.

However, when centred, there is still no "closure", no completeness - rather it is becoming familiar with "openness" - you stop trying to grasp - the insight is at the level of the way things are structured and the position one takes. It's the observer that vanishes, what is being observed? Nothing... Everything...


Hi futerko,

Is your practice zen? it does not seem the same as Catmoons? I'm starting to see subtle differences in the techniques, but I'm falling short in seeing how these techniques are to be practiced in day to day living.

I've observed that when an impure thought arises it is accompanied by an unpleasant sensation(a contraction), when a pure thought arises it is accompanied by a pleasant sensation(an expansion), my aversion to the unpleasant contractions causes them to multiply increasing misery, clinging or craving to the pleasant sensations (addiction to bliss) only leads to misery as eventually these pleasant sensations come to an end(impermanence). With this experiencial knowledge I can develope awareness towards these sensations. They act like warning devices when impure thoughts arise, with this warning I have a chance to simply observe and not react to them.

If my ability to feel sensations is weak the breath works as an indicater as well, the breath will change from light and easy to heavy and awkward.

Everything I observe in the universe seems to work off of this expansion and contraction force, from the big bang to the human breath.

When the mind is concentrated these sensations become very apparent to me, I have heard from others that when mind is concentrated they see a light nimitta more visualised form of concentration.

As this does not happen to me I am just wondering how other techniques determine thoughts and if there are any insights they may have come to understand.

When you speak of the heart centre and talk of becoming familiar with "openness". I relate this to bringing awareness to the heart and feeling those expanding pleasant sensations (it's love).

I feel I understand what you are saying in my way, but I fear I may not be understaning what you are saying to me in your way.
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:04 pm

Hi johnny,

I was wondering how we would know right action, if there was no form of punishment, as I am trying to increase my awareness to all times not just those on the cushion. If it's just consciousness labeling things good or bad with enough training we could become professional hitmen and experience no consequences. I just have to feel there is a natural order at work and there are consequences.
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Re: Thinking

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Thu Dec 27, 2012 11:47 pm

lowlydog wrote:Hi johnny,

I was wondering how we would know right action, if there was no form of punishment, as I am trying to increase my awareness to all times not just those on the cushion. If it's just consciousness labeling things good or bad with enough training we could become professional hitmen and experience no consequences. I just have to feel there is a natural order at work and there are consequences.


Well yes obviously we can infer which things ultimately are "bad" and lead to bad karmic result from teachings, precepts etc., but part of meditation is purifying and working with those things, partially by approaching them with acceptance, in which case simply avoiding them and labeling them doesn't do so much good. meditation is not always pleasant, sometimes things come up that are very difficult for us, part of what makes it effective is practicing right effort, the effort to overcome these things.

For instance, I am an angry person, in the past prone to violent behavior and lack of impulse control, in meditation it comes up alot, and in many forms. In every case I work through it by first accepting it, whatever I am doing. If it is truly an action, I feel regret etc..if it is just a thought or sensation I acknowledge it and accept it as part of the journey..

Perhaps i'm missing something, but this is the essence of what i've been told by most sources about disruptive and unpleasant thought.

May I ask, what specifically are you having a hard time with, if you are comfortable with naming it...I don't have any expertise but maybe we can share experiences.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:55 am

Hi johnny,

I wouldn't say I'm having a hard time, I understand my practice, but I have found that looking at things from a different perspective can help me to learn. I am not studious and have a poor memory, it takes a long time for things to sink in. My apologies if I'm testing the patience of others and I'm not trying to be disrespectful of others practices, I just don't understand how these other traditions work,YET! I will keep knocking on the doors until I get an answer that satisfies me.

I practice for hours every day and I find it neat when something just clicks during meditation like a puzzle piece found its place. I gather puzzle pieces from alot of different places, like the Buddha did, he wasn't of this religion or that religion he was just a guy who put the puzzle together.

I don't understand visualisation or chanting I see it as a form of supression, I can see it being good for concentration but not as a way to look at the mind body phenomenon and gain liberative wisdom. How does one use visualisation or chanting off of the cushion? And I know find a teacher and practice it to find its benefits, but this is not something I am willing to do at the moment.

I believe we need a certain amount of book knowledge and then we need to practice, practice, practice to gain wisdom.

Thanks for your time johnny :smile:
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Re: Thinking

Postby futerko » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:27 am

Actually I practice Tibetan Buddhism, and your understanding seems fine as far as I can tell - It sounds like the issue you are having is about integrating formal sitting practice with your everyday life when not sitting. It can take time.

What form of Buddhism are you practicing?
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Re: Thinking

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:09 am

I don't think you've been disrespectful at all, and i've enjoyed the thread.

As far as visualization and chanting, it does the same stuff as seated meditation, and in fact i've heard it said that an added bonus of Tantric practice is that you can simultaneously experience both conventional and ultimate reality, whereas sutra methods are one or the other at a time.

At any rate, they lead to the same thing, but each person will gravitate towards different stuff I think, and Tantric methods all seem to include seated meditation as well. Far as how you do it throughout the day..well literally you visualize yourself as deities, and chant in your head - or out loud throught the day, It is a practice that can be done whenever, like mindfulness or similar. It is not just chanting, there a whole ways of doing the practice, visualizing it, listening that make it what it is. Naturally, many volumes of instruction and commentary exist on these methods, just like seated meditation.

I don't think any one should feel obligated to think of one thing or the other as better, just find what resonates. It is good to have a sangha and teacher though I waited a long time to do that.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:18 am

A burmese form,

This was a question that came up in a weekly Theravaden sutra discussion group I attend , I was hoping to get some other views on this. :smile:
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:35 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I don't think any one should feel obligated to think of one thing or the other as better, just find what resonates. It is good to have a sangha and teacher though I waited a long time to do that.


I am taught not to visualise as it could lead to confusion with the technique I practice, so I have no exposure or experience with it at all. I don't feel my way is better, I've just come to a place in my practice where I feel ready to try and understand how other traditions and religions work and find similarities in an attempt to bring people together instead of acting as a wedge. No desperate need to do this just healthy curiosity. :smile:
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Re: Thinking

Postby Jesse » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:46 am

So again I'm stuck observing thinking, is there no other indicator that will allow me to observe craving apart from aversion?


Try just sitting somewhere for an extended period, not meditating, just sit there. Why is it so difficult to sit there happily and peacefully, look at that.
"We know nothing at all. All our knowledge is but the knowledge of schoolchildren. The real nature of things we shall never know." - Albert Einstein
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Re: Thinking

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Dec 28, 2012 6:26 am

http://www.mahamudracenter.org/MMCMembe ... c420995633

Naturally all the caveats apply here, might want to find a Tibetan teacher before attempting them yada, yada, yada...but a few are quite well known meditation techniques, some of which I knew of prior to checking out Tibetan Buddhism.. maybe these might be of some use.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Thinking

Postby catmoon » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:13 am

lowlydog wrote:So what your saying is that during my meditation(and day to day activities) a change in my breathing is an indication of impurities in the mind. So a fast and hard breathing could indicate tension and impure mind and a relaxed and slow breath could indicate a calm pure mind.

Also, observing bodily tension is a good way of recognising impure harmful thoughts.


Yes and no. The tension and hard breathing mean its time to check. They can be caused by harmful thoughts. They can also be caused by playing tennis.

Why do we have to make anger a problem? If we can identify it, can we not just observe it, see its charachteristic of impermanence and watch it arise stay for some time and eventually pass away. Your technique seems to place your attention on others, outside of your body. Would it not be better to observe ones own qualities?

I can defenitly see how imagining a buddha when angry can temporarily distract one from impure thoughts but how does this prevent the thoughts from arising in the future.


Anger is a problem because it distorts the mind. One sees the object of anger as much worse than it actually is, which can lead to bad decisions. Anger often leads to harmful actions. If one catches it and can observe it (oh, looks here's this anger thing arising again) it is very liable to drain away, especially if one is quite clear on the damage potential of anger and does not wish to be angry.

Anger is usually directed at a person. It's hard to get mad at a Buddha. So if you see Buddha nature before you, you are less likely to become angry, because instead of a bad person you see a Buddha and some mildly interesting things obscuring the expression of the Buddha nature.
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Re: Thinking

Postby robby » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:19 pm

lowlydog wrote:
I can defenitly see how imagining a buddha when angry can temporarily distract one from impure thoughts but how does this prevent the thoughts from arising in the future.


I hope I am not butting in here. I gather the discussion is about dealing with unwholesome mental states, such as resentment, that arise during daily interactions?

This goes to #6 in the 8-fold path, usually referred to as Right Effort. A more detailed explanation is the fourfold right struggle. The struggle involves:

1. Blocking the unwholesome mental states before they arise.
2. Letting go of or abandoning unwholesome mental states that have arisen.
3. Cultivating wholesome mental states that have yet to arise.
4. Maintaining wholesome mental states that have arisen

Dosa or dvesha; hostility or hatred is one category of afflictions (klesha) or unwholesome (akushala) mental states. Resentment (upanaha) or anger (pratigjha) can arise in response to annoying actions of others, or even inanimate things, like bad weather, that interfere with our plans. Nursing a grudge can make us spiteful (pradasha). Envy (issa, irsya), a resentment toward the successes or well being of others, is another common form of hostility. Sometimes, people can become dominated by feelings of enmity (vyapada) and develop 'a chip on the shoulder' that tends to provoke uneasiness in others. They might also fly into rage (krodha) at the slightest offense. In extreme cases, people can become dominated by malevolence (vihimsa) toward specific groups or others in general

iirc, in the Path of Purification, Budagosa recommended cultivating tolerance (khanti / kshanti) as means of dealing with felling of resentment or hostility. Khanti or Buddhist tolerance is patience with things that do not necessarily deserve patience. It is synonymous with forbearance and similar to forgiveness, The Chinese for tolerance is 忍辱; which means to endure offenses, insults, or abuse. People generally do what they do because of their own karma, We get annoyed because we see our self as the target of rudeness or inconsiderate deeds committed by others, We think ii is happening to us. In reality, we are usually no more their target than we are the target of bad weather. Budagosa compared harboring resentment to seizing a hot ember with the intent of throwing it at the offender. We get burnt.

Another way of countering anger is to cultivate the mental states known as the 4 palaces of Brahma; loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. There are fairly easy and powerful meditations and chants to arouse loving kindness (metta, maitri) and compassion (karuna) within ourselves. There are also practices to radiate or suffuse kindness and compassion outwardly. The effect of the latter on others can be quite remarkable.

There are downsides. Loving kindness can be mistaken for or mixed up with sexual attraction. Lust (kama) is a 'hot' desire, and a near enemy of the warm affection of loving kindness. Metta / maitri is like parental or fraternal love. Also, compassion can make one too emotional. Emotional attachment (raga) can be a near enemy of both compassion (karuna -- empathy with and sadness for the suffering of others) and appreciative joy (mudita -- joy in the well being of others). Cultivating 'cool' and mildly aloof detachment (viraga) and equanimity (upekkha / upeksha) serve as balances for emotionalism. They also strengthen our tolerance level, and counteract the complications or temptations of inappropriate sexual lust.

One other thing on tolerance, We can also get angry at our own mistakes, or even feel anxiety and depression (kukkucca, kaukritya). It is healthy to be patiently forbearing with oneself too.
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Re: Thinking

Postby lowlydog » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:18 pm

robby wrote:I hope I am not butting in here. I gather the discussion is about dealing with unwholesome mental states, such as resentment, that arise during daily interactions?



Hi robby,

You are not butting in here at all welcome to the conversation. I was originally fishing for practical ways for us as meditators to observe and identify impure mind, both on the cushion and off in our day to day activities, that way we would be able to know when our actions were wholesome or unwholsome.

Thanks for your contributions.

robby wrote:Another way of countering anger is to cultivate the mental states known as the 4 palaces of Brahma; loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity. There are fairly easy and powerful meditations and chants to arouse loving kindness (metta, maitri) and compassion (karuna) within ourselves. There are also practices to radiate or suffuse kindness and compassion outwardly. The effect of the latter on others can be quite remarkable.


While meditating impure thoughts arise eg "why won't this teacher stop chanting, I want this meditation to be over, man is he ever long winded" these impure thoughts cause a biochemical reaction to occur producing some sensation, every impurity will generate some sensation or the other within the body. Reaction to them will cause them to multiply. When we are experiencing these impurities I am taught not to practice loving kindness outwardly as I may unknowingly be radiating my negativities towards others. I do however practice loving kindness inwardly as a technique to weather the really bad storms that impare my view.
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